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The Sphere of Influence

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In order to consistently deliver influential and successful products, the supervisor must focus on establishing a strong foundation or "safety zone" where trust and safety are nurtured for all staff members. The safety zone can become a source of creativity and energy which enables the team to influence others in their division, the organization, and outside the organization.

Expanding the team’s sphere of influence will bring many leadership opportunities and these opportunities will bring a lot of fear and risk to all team members. The safety zone is an area of refuge and strategy where all team members can support each other as the challenges of influencing others develop. Establishing and nurturing the safety zone requires that all team members have a good understanding of the sequence and nature of the steps necessary in group development as well as their teammates' strengths and personality traits.

The graphic below illustrates the safety zone in green and the increase in risk and fear that occurs as team members pursue opportunities to lead outside the safety zone. The sphere of influence expands to all the organizational levels and beyond.

The Sphere of Influence

Based on strengths and job responsibilities, some staff members will be consistently expanding the team’s sphere of influence by working outside the safety zone while others will spend most of their time and efforts inside the safety zone. Pressure from outside and within can lead team members to go into their negative personality traits. As the leader and other team members begin to understand how others behave under stress, forgiveness and patience will be key factors in developing safety. At the beginning of this process, all team members are learning about themselves as well as their teammates. This takes time and a lot of attention from the leader. Feedback tools must be introduced and strongly recommended when conflict arises as a way to enable authentic and productive communication. Trust and safety will only develop when team members have the courage to talk to one another about their issues, can accept responsibility for their mistakes, and feel that others will not seek to hurt them. This is especially true about the team members and the manager. If the team members fear the manager, enabling trust will be most difficult.

Staff members that consistently work outside the safety zone are considered delegates of the team. The role can be a very difficult and stressful one for the delegates. As the trust and safety begins to develop in the safety zone, the team's delegates will begin to realize how harshly and aggressively people outside the team behave at times, especially the higher ranking members of the organization. Unfortunately, bullying is very common and this can cause delegates to fall into their negative behavior patterns when they return to the team. This dynamic must be articulated and explained to all team members as delegates may require a lot of understanding and forgiveness from all team members and their leaders.

Maintaining harmony and minimizing conflict become priorities for supervisors in order to develop a sustainable safety zone for all team members.

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